Former Queensland coach Wayne Bennett blasts talk about changing the Origin eligibility rules

Legendary former Queensland coach Wayne Bennett has blasted talk Pacific Islanders like Jason Taumalolo could play Origin, declaring the rules “are the rules”.

Debate around the criteria for Origin has intensified after North Queensland’s Tongan lock Taumalolo expressed interest in representing the Maroons in this year’s series.

Taumalolo is currently ineligible to play Origin because he has played for top-tier nation New Zealand, even though he lived in Queensland before his 13th birthday.

However, with 50 per cent of the NRL now filled with Polynesian players, the argument has been made for the Origin arena to include the game’s best players.

Wayne Bennett has helped make State of Origin what it is today, so he doesn’t want to see the eligibility rules changed to allow former New Zealand Test stars like Jason Taumalolo to represent the Maroons. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

It comes as ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys is entertaining an overhaul of the Origin eligibility rules to cater for players like Taumalolo.

However, Bennett, who helped formed the Origin eligibility criteria, slammed the plan to change the rules.

“I don’t know why we beat ourselves up about that. It’s just a waste of time thing,” Bennett said.

“We’ve got rules, the NRL created the rules, and I was a part of it at the time.

“There’s been some adjustments since then so go look at the rules.

“If the rule says (Taumalolo) can play, then he can play. But if they say he can’t play, then he’s not going to play.

“The rules are the rules.

“It is not difficult, and we don’t need a long conversation about it.”

Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans hugs Wayne Bennett after winning last year’s Origin series. Picture: Peter WallisSource:News Corp Australia

Bennett believes it’s important for the Origin concept to maintain its state versus state heritage created in 1980.

“State of Origin works because it‘s genuine,” he said.

“It‘s not something that we’ve manufactured and played with and changed.

“It‘s mate versus mate, state versus state.

“And when we change that we‘ll have a different dynamic, and I don’t think it’ll be in the best interests of the game to do that.”

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